Newschannel 3's I-Team has uncovered a recording that could change music history.
Elvis fans have been living in the heartbreak hotel since his death, wanting to hear anything new from the king.
Now, a new, never before heard recording, potentially a demo track, has surfaced that could be Elvis Presley.
This is the story of a king, and a recording of a song called 'Living to Love You.'
According to Battle Creek attorney Violet Hinton, that recording has Elvis Presley singing. She says the song comes from songwriter Jimmie Crane and producer Albert Leigh, recorded in 1976, the year before Elvis died.
There was a series of unfortunate events, Hinton says Jimmie Crane passed away, Albert Leigh had a stroke, his studio was broken into and Leigh died after a second stroke. The recording disappeared, only to be rediscovered years later, collecting dust in the attic of Albert Leigh's wife's home.
“Her house was foreclosed on,” said Hinton. “She just recently gave what was left of Albert Leigh's things to her sons. They were going through it, they found all this stuff.”
One of those sons lives in Battle Creek and brought the recording he believed to be Elvis to Hinton along with a table full of documents.
“All the tapes, all the contracts, all the songs written by Jimmie Crane, copyrights,” said Hinton.
Hinton, a lifetime fan of Elvis, couldn't help but be 'all shook up' by the possibility of an undiscovered recording.
“He was the greatest. There's no one like Elvis Presley, never will be,” said Hinton. “When I heard that, I knew that was Elvis Presley. I knew it.”
Hinton says she's verified the authenticity of the documents and says they connect Elvis, Jimmie Crane and Albert Leigh to the song. Perhaps most important are shipping records, on the song line, “Living to Love You,” on the artist line, “Elvis.”
However, Hinton admits there's no smoking gun, no one piece of evidence that proves the recording is Elvis Presley.
Hinton brought the case to Newschannel 3 and we tracked down forensic audio expert Ed Primeau and noted music journalist Gary Graff to help solve the mystery.
“A complete, previously unreleased song by Elvis is a grail, maybe not a Holy Grail, but it's still a significant find,” said Graff.
Primeau has done forensic audiovisual analysis work on dozens of legal cases. He says the best case scenario would be having Elvis sing the song today and matching the recording to that, but that's obviously not an option.
“So what we do is we go back to that same era, we pull a piece of music,” said Primeau. “We find a similar phrasing vocally in the music and call that our exemplar. We compare that to the sample that we want to know if it is indeed Elvis or not.”
The files in, and his ears ready, Primeau takes a close listen to the recording.
And then, Primeau listens, and listens and listens some more, to 'Living to Love You,' to 'What Now My Love' and 'I'll Remember You' off 'Aloha From Hawaii.'
He also analyzes the audio spectrum, watches the waveforms bounce and eventually the veteran witness from dozens of court cases, delivers his verdict.
“Putting you under oath, is this Elvis?” asked Newschannel 3's Mike Chesney.
“Yes,” said Primeau. “It's Elvis Presley, there's no doubt in my mind.”
The tonality, vibrato, phrasing and the spectrum, all a match.
And we took it one note further, comparing the out the audio from a known Elvis song and our mystery recording to an Elvis impersonator and another performer, we used Neil Diamond. They clearly didn't match.
“There's no two Elvis Presleys on this planet,” said Primeau. “We heard several nuances that were similar in the impersonator and Elvis, but at the end of the day, it's different.”
“Ed Primeau is one of the leaders in his field,” said Graff. “His word carries a substantial amount of weight.”
It's enough weight for Graff to also believe that the recording is Elvis.
Graff says by the mid-70s, Elvis wasn't doing much recording, which makes this find even more special.
“You're really talking about one of a handful, if that many, of new songs that Elvis recorded in that time period,” said Graff. “Who knows what the intent was here. Was this the beginning of a new Elvis album? Was he starting to look for material? Were there discussions about putting him back in the studio?”
“What you've discovered here is an update to an estate that has been quiet for a long time,” said Primeau.
“There's going to be a lot of commercial possibilities for this,” said Graff.
We want back to Hinton with the news, telling her that the forensic audio expert says the recording is in fact, Elvis.
“I knew it, I just knew it,” said Hinton. “I knew the first time I heard it that it was really Elvis. I know there are impersonators, but I knew this was Elvis.”
Now Hinton hopes to start the ball rolling for her clients, the family of producer Albert Leigh.
“I'm hoping this gets enough notoriety that the people I've been trying to reach, I'll be able to get through to now,” said Hinton.
And Hinton hopes to eventually make it so other Elvis fans across the world can enjoy the king's 'newest' song as well.
This may only be the beginning of the journey for the recording. Graff says if the right people hear about it, they could raise ownership questions. Also, the original reel to reel may also exist, but the Leigh family doesn't have that.
Newschannel 3 reached out to Graceland and Sony Music Entertainment about this story, but we did not get a response.